Sunday, October 12, 2014

Clean India...not a easy task but not impossible to achieve.

On occasion of Gandhi jayanti (2nd October 2014), clean India (Swachh Bharat) movement was launched with big fan fair and lot of media coverage. Many celebrities and politicians seized this opportunity and got their photos of cleaning some already cleaned area with broom published in daily news paper to display their sincerity and commitment towards this movement. There were even some brand ambassadors which were nominated to take up this challenge and they are supposed to continue this work. So the beginning was like any other ambitious government schemes, with lot of fan fare and media coverage. Such launch was also not new as this was done by many previous governments also but one should really appreciate the work of PR agency of BJP and this government the way they manage to publicize anything related with government and Mr. Modi. Lot of noise and chaos was created but soon all this faded and now I guess things are back to normal. Photos of garbage piles, open drainage, dirty roads, etc. are back on web to show that nothing has changed, may be these people are trying to be cynical or are commenting based on their experience with previous government schemes. When i landed in Mumbai yesterday, I saw that nothing has changed as far as cleanliness is concerned, may be it was clean on 2nd October I ca not comment about that as I was not here on that day but today it doesn't seem any different than what I saw when I visited last year. No one will object to the point that clean India movement is desperately needed. At the same time people should know that this was not the first time any government tried to initiate some campaign to clean India, previous governments also tried to do something like this under different names and different schemes but nothing seems to have produced desired result and I hope this one does produce desired result. Public desire and participation is the key for success of any such campaign. The main reason why such government schemes fail is that we seldom see any bipartisan collaboration in India on any such issues related with public interest, this limits public participation as people react based on their political affiliations not based on the usefulness of these schemes. Unless this attitude of political parties and their supporters changes it is impossible to expect such schemes to succeed no matter who launches is and how much they publicize it. 

Accumulation of garbage at public places, dirty roads, open drainage, open defecation and urination, careless attitude of people to throw garbage wherever they want, heavily polluted rivers and lakes, etc. are major concerns of every town, city and village in India. It seems that people are only interested in keeping their own homes very clean but the moment they step outside their own homes they just forget this concept of cleanliness and behave as if it is not their responsibility to maintain cleanliness of their surroundings. Government is also at fault as it not able to provide all necessary infrastructure like dustbins, proper and prompt removal and disposal of garbage, etc. So this problem is result of failure on multiple levels, people don't think it is their responsibility to keep their city clean and government can not cope up with increasing demand of resources because of ever growing population of these cities. People always blame government for not doing their job and government authorities always complain about lack of funding and people's non cooperation, so both concerned parties keep on blaming each other. The result is there to see for all, many places in these cities stink, they literally look like garbage disposal sites or sanitation tanks. People live in such unhealthy surroundings, they complain about it all the time but rarely try to do anything to change it.

I personally know what it means to live in such environment, kids of our neighborhood used to play cricket with huge chunk of garbage right in the middle of our cricket ground. There was huge open garbage disposal site at walking distance from our neighborhood where all kids used to go to hunt for some useful stuff during weekends and school holidays. Open defecation was very common as there were very limited public toilets so we were used to live with garbage and filth around us. But our homes used to be very clean, we all used to clean our homes multiple times a day sweep it, mop it but same attitude was not displayed towards our neighborhood and I still see this mentality among people, unless this changes I doubt whether such schemes will work or not. Idea of clean India is very important and appealing but this is not going to happen in one day. How many celebrities who posed for picture on that day (including our PM) continued with this work next day? How many bothered to check that the area which they cleaned remained clean after one week also? How many politicians or actors continued to work with their supporters and fans to make sure that interest in such activity is not temporary but becomes  permanent habit? All people living in India or who lived in India know very well epic record of government scheme failure, this seems to be going in same direction. Whenever I talked with people about this idea they either just laughed it off or just ignored which is really disappointing to see. I really hope that people of India don't take this cleanliness drive so lightly, this is a very serious issue which will require very serious efforts at many levels. It is very disappointing to see that during current election campaign in Maharashtra and Haryana no political party (including BJP) seem to be interested in talking about this idea. They all are busy in playing same old style politics giving tickets to candidates with corrupt or criminal background who keep on talking about age old issues about which they don't intend to do anything. If it goes on like this this idea or scheme will also go down in history like many other government launched schemes who were launched with good intention but failed to deliver any desired result. I really see it going in that direction but let's wait and watch, I hope I am wrong because like everyone I also dream to see clean India one day.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]


  1. Just look at the photographs of the celebrities "participating" in this Swachh Bharat Movement. They are wearing high branded shirts and jeans, some even wearing branded goggles. Has anyone at anytime seen a cleaner or sweeper on the streets dressed so well? Well, I do not mean that well-dressed people cannot clean streets properly. But the dirt and dust which blows during the action of sweeping or cleaning is very likely to come into contact with our clothing which, in a way, entails that we wear simpler clothing while performing such actions. And even if we were to ignore the clothing, how about the masks? I should have thought that rather than goggles and branded jeans it should have been masks which they ought to be wearing. But there was a hardly anyone seen wearing masks. So are we really making a mock of it all?

    As you have mentioned Vinay, the celebrities and the lot seem to be cleaning streets which are already clean enough. And look at how many people flock around to clean just one small area! Is this the way the streets are cleaned? So many people all at one place? Imagine the amount of loss the municipality would have to bear if it were to recruit so many people just to clean one small place. Yes, we are inching closer to becoming the most populous country in the world. But that does not, in any way, mean that we rope in 10 people to do a task which could ordinarily be done by 2 or 3 persons.

    And then again, how about the sustenance of such movements? You have posed some very poignant questions here, Vinay. How many celebrities who posed for photographs for media coverage continued cleaning the streets after the initial pomp and fanfare? And how many are still doing it today? The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is a good initiative. But let us not make a mock of it.

    Moreover, why don't we first look at reducing the amount of garbage that accumulates in our surroundings? Why don't we ensure that we throw the garbage not on the streets but in the dust bins which are actually meant for that purpose? Or, if we are travelling, why don't we carry some small bag with us which could act as our personal mobile dust bin? How much is it going to cost us? Why don't we teach our children not to throw wrappers of chocolates and biscuits outside from the windows of buses and trains? Yes, there is the municipality to clean up the garbage you throw. But why not, as far as possible, avoid throwing the garbage on to the streets in the first place? Why make the municipality clean that which is very much in our hands to control and eliminate? The municipalities, as we all know, are already underperforming. Why overburden them and make their task more difficult?

  2. Now Vinay why are you so hypercritical, so pessimistic about every new thing that lies on your platter ?? Mr. Modi talks of Swachh Bharat and there you go criticizing it in your style. So typical of you.

    1. hypercritical, so pessimistic???
      Did you even bothered to read the title of the blog or content of the blog? The title itself says that it is not a impossible task if carried out properly...and I think this is optimistic statement but may be not for you as you are looking at it with very biased mindset so you will see what you want to see....

      By the way I didn't know that I have some style or something, I am glad to know that you find some style in my writing..:) thanks for that compliment...:)

  3. To anonymous :- Its what Vinay does best—criticizing India and Indians and hes leading the readers astray. This is why I often come here and try to put him right.
    Looks like you are another anonymous who has spotted his trend.
    Just to prove my point –you see how he’s brainwashed Claustrophobe into making those silly comments.

    To-- ‘Claustrophobe’
    They were all there to perform a symbolic act of cleaning and not really involved in cleaning.
    Its not their day job.
    They did a good thing.
    Through them the media would flock.
    Which hopefully would be printed in papers, shown on TV, blogs etc.
    Which in turn would inspire some of the nation to take action.

    Lets hope it works.

    We shouldn’t be moaning about their actions or what they did or how they dressed etc.
    That’s just childish.

    Instead write something that would inspire someone to go out today and take action.

    1. Dear Anonymous,
      I didn't know that you are trying to "put me right"...I hope you are seeing some success in this direction. I wonder why you don't like to hear about reality. Facts don't change just because you don't like to hear about them, they remain as they are and some has to tell them. After listening to any message try to understand it and if possible try to do something to correct those things mentioned in that message rather than trying to shoot the messenger. Trying to shoot the messenger is not going to solve any problem; I hope that you understand this very well.

      Last few days I was visiting Uttar Pradesh, I visited few places including constituency of our Prime Minister, Varanasi. I will soon update about what I saw there and believe me whatever I saw was not at all encouraging. I hope you have some answers to these questions rather than some personal remarks about people. We all know that you are very good at making personal remarks and you just love to do that but please also try to write something related to subject of post so that it will help in taking discussion forward in right direction. Thanks in advance for your efforts (if at all you bother to make any in right direction).

  4. To-- ‘Anonymous’

    Thank you for labelling my comments as silly. Now let's see how smart your comments are:

    /They were all there to perform a symbolic act of cleaning and not really involved in cleaning./

    That's the saddest part, isn't it? Good that you realised that they were "not really involved in cleaning". And when such "acts of cleaning" are performed by people who are "not really involved in cleaning" then they are not termed as "symbolic" but as "farcical".

    /Its not their day job./

    So you mean to say that it's not the job of celebrities and politicians to do the "real" cleaning work. They can only "pretend" it. It's for the rest of us to do the "real" cleaning.

    Firstly, this, in itself, is a discriminatory statement. I was given to believing that this is nationwide movement involving people from all sections of society without any discrimination based on caste, class, community, region, religion or gender? So, on what grounds are you according a special privilege to celebrities and politicians?

    Secondly, I have not come across any disclaimer in the Swachch Bharat Abhiyan which says that celebrities and politicians are spared from "real" cleaning work. Please share with us any link or reference to such disclaimer.

    Thirdly, your statement means that it is only the celebrities and politicians who have real "day jobs". So, are the rest of us having no "day jobs" and are merely whiling away our time?

    Or do you intend to make a general statement that this Abhiyan is not for "anyone with a day job"? Then, in that case, one would wonder who you think is the targeted participant of this Abhiyan !

    /Through them the media would flock.
    Which hopefully would be printed in papers, shown on TV, blogs etc./

    The media has been flocking at each new thing that comes up. It flocks everywhere, be it elections, scams and scandals, the Aam Aadmi Party or the Abhishek-Aishwarya wedding. That's their bread and butter, my dear friend.

    The media can, no doubt, be instrumental in creating awareness. But then how much of what the media shows is inspirational and how much is showmanship is anybody's guess.

    /We shouldn’t be moaning about their actions or what they did or how they dressed etc./

    You have yourself made the statement above that these people were "not really involved in cleaning". So, I don't see any reason why I should not moan about their actions.

    And given the magnitude of the Swachch Bharat Abhiyan, would you prefer the media to show someone "not really involved in cleaning" or would you, on the contrary, prefer someone "really involved in cleaning" ? Who, do you think, would set the correct example?

    /Which in turn would inspire some of the nation to take action/
    /Instead write something that would inspire someone to go out today and take action./

    You seem to be zapped by "inspiration". Well, I only pointed out the mockery and the hypocrisy of the media, the celebrities and the politicians who seem to take us all for granted. That, in no way, means, that I am against such initiatives. Who here would not like to see a Swachch Bharat? All of us do. Nobody here is against the end result of a Swachch Bharat. The difference of opinion, however, lies in the means through which we seek to achieve this end.

    And although I do not underestimate the role of inspiration in our lives, if one truly understands the spirit behind this movement, I am sure, one would not "wait for an inspiration" (and least of all from such hypocrites). One would rather just go for it.

  5. Claustrophobe,

    Good reply.

    The statement made by Anonymous that "Its not their day job" is really discriminatory.

    To Anonymous,

    Your statement that "Its not their day job" very much shows the bias in your mind. You are sparing the celebrities, politicians and others from this movement. On what basis? Aren't they equally citizens of India?

    Cleaning the streets is neither your day job not mine and not of most of us here. Then are we all to sit quiet and do nothing saying "Its not my day job"? Your comments clearly give privileges to celebrities and politicians and for no justified reasons.

    You say celebrities can do some show business and not actually clean the place. Ok. But that is when you count them as professionals. Here you have to bear in mind that celebrities are citizens first and then celebrities as professionals. So they should not hesitate to play their role as citizens. What the media shows is only show business. Why not also show some real efforts from politicians and celebrities. That is the whole question.

    dr. suhas desai

    1. Anonymous,

      Talking further, such initiatives have already begun much earlier at the village level. You may not be aware of it. It seems you are just another urbanite who does not even bother to see what actually goes in villages. You only wait for media to flock, then printed news in newspapers and comfortable reading for you on websites and blogs. That is all information you can gather and that makes you talk all this stuff.

      Please go through the below link which is just one example. And it began 14 years earlier and still goes on. I am giving you this link as I have actually seen this in villages in Maharashtra in districts such as Pune, Satara, Buldhana.

      And they did not wait for media to flock FYI.

  6. Anonymous,

    This is not some Page 3 news that you would require the media and celebrities and the glossy show to create an impact. Rather what is more required is civic sense.

    Our country has urban, semi-urban and rural areas. Apart from some exceptions most of the Abhiyan's work would be required in the urban and semi-urban parts as these are the filthiest of the three. Fortunately, these are the areas where the media is most likely to reach - faster and with more impact. The downside is - these are the areas where people are more likely to stay indoors. They have much bigger egos and would generally look at such work as menial jobs which are meant for the lower strata of the society. All that the media shows you - the celebrities with brooms in hands - is just the glossy part. Try to look what lies underneath this gloss and you will see the reality.

    You are of the opinion that it is not the business of politicians and celebrities to clean. It is for the others. Politicians and celebrities have your soft corner. But understand first that this is "business" for them - just some stunt. Even for the media. They will do this once and twice and then will leave the rest to you. And now come to think of it. For the time being, let us set aside the elite including the politicians, celebrities, industrialists, businessmen, etc. If we talk of the rest, how much time do you think the urban white-collar people with their big egos would actually devote for such things? There will be still others from the remaining lot with their egos. Let us put them aside. Also remove the aged, the children, the disabled. Count the people you would actually have at hand. And also remember that this is not a show that once started can move on its own. It would require regular inspiration which unfortunately the media would not keep doing. That's the nature of the media. So think realistically.

    - Shibu

  7. Vinay---Everytime I judge your blog you shout “it’s a personal attack”. Its not.

    Claustrophobe --you still don’t understand the symbolic actions. You are far too busy trying to rip through my points rather than actually understanding them or the programme created by Mr Modi. I’ll just leave you a link.

    dr. suhas desai –with respect you have just repeated what Claustrophobe has just written.

    Another Anonymous –you gave a link to a malicious website --- ----Luckily I have good protection from such filthy websites and Norton has cleaned it up!!!!

    Shibu – [[This is not some Page 3 news that you would require the media and celebrities and the glossy show to create an impact. Rather what is more required is civic sense.]]

    You are nearly there. The celebrities input is very much needed for impact and you are right that civic awareness and sense of duty is required.

    This News is creating civic pride and public awareness to those who drop litter. If a few can take examples from their so called ‘idols’ then this is a good thing.
    I don’t expect the government official to go out and clean anything but give encouragement to those who foul their areas. If they start a ‘lets dig a well in every village’ programme then I don’t expect them to go for a dig every day. If they start a ‘Lets Make in India’ then I don’t expect them to go to factories and start making things for themselves. You have to understand their wisdom because they cant go around doing everything every day. Who will govern India then?

    1. Dear Anonymous,
      I think I understand the difference between personal comment and a general comment related with subject of the post. I absolutely don't have any problem with you or anyone else judging the blog, commenting positive or negative about it, ripping off my posts point by point logically...actually initiating a healthy and logical discussion about various issues is the main purpose of the blog. But when you start judging people rather than their opinions then it's personal; when you start commenting about their abilities or intellectual power or try to insult them for their opinions or views then it’s personal, and I hope that you understand the difference between the two...if not then I hope that you will learn it by experience. As a moderator it is my duty to remind everyone not to get personal during any discussion whenever I see that happening and I am just doing that.
      I do expect EVERYBODY to participate in this mission ACTIVELY. I do expect all of them to clean litter around them including these so called celebrities, government servants even our PM and ministers if they are at all SERIOUS about this mission. If not then like them everyone else also has right to do their symbolic act of cleaning and carry on with their busy life. If this movement has to become an integral part of governing India if they at all think that 'clean India' is a necessity and a priority...if they do then it should be displayed in their own actions and then only people will even bother to follow.


    Firstly you all just need to take a deep breath and stop trying to win some points over me and understand the reality of the whole situation.
    This whole clean up process is misunderstood by you all because these programmes are not about some big wig cleaning up his street/area everyday.
    Besides they have made their pledges to clean up –have you??? Its not important whether they keep it or not! Will you keep it??

    Understand the BIGGER PICTURE.

    These programmes are a catalyst to bringing about changes in thought process.
    It is to create awareness to those who foul our cities.
    This problem is not unique to India. It’s the world over. But some countries have managed to instil better sanskar in the minds of their people.

    ‘Swachch Bharat Abhiyan’ some of the objective of the programme is

    • the Swachh Bharat Mission will make an initiative of establishing an accountable mechanism of monitoring latrine use.
    • Public awareness will also be provided about the drawbacks of open defecation and promotion of latrine use.
    • Proper, dedicated ground staff will be recruited to bring about behavioural change and promotion of latrine use.
    • For proper sanitation use, the mission will aim at changing people’s attitudes, mindsets and behaviours.

    In short the following points are important as they will have long term effect.
    ---Public awareness
    ----bring about behavioural change
    ---mission to changing people’s attitudes, mindsets and behaviours.

    This is not just short term mass media frenzy; for the sake of publicity and never to be heard of again.
    The programme is one of a continuous reminders and improvements.

    To that end we all need to play a part.
    Bloggers or anyone who foul mouth these programmes will not be doing any favours to India or the mindset of Indians. These people are just annoying hindrances to India achieving its goal.

    The only way this problem can be resolved is we all work together through education and positive reinforcement and empowerment and NOT by way of scepticism or half heartedness or moaning or even through bullying or violence.

    We must remind every one their civic duty.

    Now this is not a new mission. We have attempted to clean India before many times over.
    That’s OK.
    For some reason those programmes failed –perhaps worked short term –but it was all good.
    People forget very easily.
    New generations are not taught these values so lets do it again, give it another name give another mission and give it another boost.
    These are all positive actions for the betterment of India.
    As individuals we could also do more to remind the Government to not slack or forget their promises and performances.

    We reminded people not to spit but still they do.
    WE have films like Munnabhai MBBS which remind us of our own failings.
    But still people forget.
    We bring in Laws, rules, even fine many but still the problems persist.

    So what more can be done?
    Give up?
    Let’s keep at it.
    Let’s back it up and give it all the blessing and encouragement we can.
    The alternative is to moan about it and so nothing gets resolved.

    We don’t want to be wasting idle time about whether Mr Celebrity or Mr Government Official will do this every day.
    Its all about what I do for my country, for my town, for my village, for my street.
    Let’s not look at Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in scepticsm.
    Let’s back this new venture and hope for the best.
    Let’s us also hope that we can change the minds of the people
    Let’s us all pledge to make this mission a success

    1. To Anonymous,

      Why dont you start your own blog and post your garbage over there? Why waste Vinay's blogspace with your propaganda?

      To Somebody from Swachha Bharat,

      If you are reading this blog, then please come and clean this piece of garbage posted here by Anomymous.

      Or else I will be forced to make a pledge and clean it up myself to make this mission a success.

      - rg

    2. Dear Anonymous,
      Thanks for your detailed reply, actually no one is giving up here, rather than people who are questioning intentions of these so called celebrities or politicians are trying to remind them that this is not an easy task so just a token act of one day cleaning is not gong to do anything. Rather you are telling them to give up, keep quite and watch this scheme to go down the drain like many other government initiatives which failed to deliver expected results. I am glad that you are planning to participate in this mission actively, I am also doing my share and I think everyone else is also trying to contribute as much as they can.

    3. It is better to have tried and failed then not tried at all.

    4. yes. so go ahead - try and then fail and then repent.

  9. rg –propaganda? Hehe. Thank you for your ignorant views.

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